In 1998, the Art Gallery of the South Okanagan received 78 works of Inuit art from Jill and Rev. Derek Salter of Okanagan Falls, B.C. The pieces were collected by Sister Madeleine Mary (Salter) during her time as a nurse in Pangnirtung from 1953 to 1956, and again from 1966 to 1968. Salter also produced a body of photography documenting the community life of Pangnirtung as it was at that time. The sculpture, dolls and clothing was largely seen as a record of traditional Inuit life, a culture increasingly subject to acculturative forces.
This collection contains many small scale pieces rendered in stone showing a range of subject matter from genre to wildlife. Several of the works such as the depiction of a bear, a hunter over a seal hole, women throat singing, a dogteam pulling a komatik, and two men in a row boat are especially exquisite. A depiction of an Inuk reading from a prayer book is poignant and most relevant. Whalebone has also been used to good effect to produce sensitive images. A most enigmatic and intriguing image in bone is the depiction of two bears, perhaps a mother and her young cub.
This collection may be most distinguished by the number of works employing ivory, a medium long favoured in this region. A whaling boat is one of the finest examples of its kind with its fine detailing and pleasing forms. The solid ivory sail is extraordinary. Similarly, a sail boat featuring a cloth sail (#38) and a man in a Kayak are distinguished. Ivory has always been used by the Inuit to produce implements essential to daily living. This tradition continues with such beautifully crafted functional items as a belt buckle, napkin rings, brooches, and, crochet hooks. The full potential for the use of ivory as a medium can be seen in the creation of exquisite miniature figures, and in a Northerner's vision of a tree.
A second aspect of this collection which deserves particular attention is the remarkable number of highly detailed dolls featuring shaped and stitched faces. These pieces illustrate the range of decorative potential Inuit seamstresses found with the creative use of contrasting strips of inlaid furs. These pieces in caribou and sealskin are important visual records of the traditional clothing of the Baffin Inuit. In addition, the influences of the European is strikingly in evidence with the use of canvas, duffle and yarn. Of special mention must be the child's granny style doll.